Pages-in-waiting learn about their assembly duties

December 12, 1993|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Staff Writer

Six county students, who will serve as pages at the 1994 General Assembly, were greeted Thursday at a breakfast attended by school officials and Harford legislators.

The county sends five pages to Annapolis for the annual legislative session and picks one alternate in case a page is unable to perform his or her duties.

Those duties include relaying messages about bills to legislators, conducting some research on proposed legislation and keeping track of bills.

"It is a very high honor to be selected," school Superintendent Ray R. Keech said to the pages.

Called the county's "brightest and best," the students -- Michael S. Anderson of Bel Air High School; Christopher E. Brandon of John Carroll High; Rebecca A. Fryer of Aberdeen High; Matthew P. Ouellette and Lara Ricci, both of C. Milton Wright High; and alternate Darlene J. Papier of Fallston High -- had a chance to talk to the delegates and senators whom they will serve.

"Bill books," odd-colored blazers and hints of after-work parties were among the topics of conversation.

Alternate Darlene Papier listened attentively as Del. Donald C. Fry, a District 35A Democrat, made joking references to the color of the jackets the pages wear -- "They can be easily spotted," he said of the "mustard" shade.

Del. David R. Craig, a District 34 Republican, explained the importance of keeping the legislator's bill book -- a record of legislative bills -- in order. The students will be kept busy, said Del. Mary Louise Preis, a District 34 Democrat, "You will learn more in a week than you would in six weeks of school," she told the students.

Former student page Mary Catherine Adams, who addressed the students via videotape, said, "You will be a messenger, copy getter and sometimes researcher . . .and you will be a crucial part of the law-making process."

Christopher Brandon said that being selected as a page had been a high school goal. "It will be a great learning experience."

To be chosen, students write an essay on why they want to become a page. Each school picks two candidates, who are interviewed by a group of judges made up of staff from each school.

"The caliber of the students makes our job difficult," said Ira A. Hiberman, supervisor of social studies for the school system and a facilitator for the program.

He said the judges look for students who are articulate, knowledgeable about government and have viewpoints on issues and the legislative process.

As pages, the students will be able to meet people they have only read about, Mr. Hiberman said.

"It also provides career connections for pages interested in the political arena," he said.

Several of the pages professed such an interest. Matthew Ouellette said he was "politically minded," Lara Ricci plans to major in political science in college, and Rebecca Fryer said that after obtaining degrees in business and political science she'd like to be a "spokesperson for the U.S. government."

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